Clever Halloween Costume Hacks

Coming up with a great Halloween costume isn't always easy, especially if you're running out of time and ideas. But don't worry, even if you only have a few hours or spent all of your cash on candy, you still have way more choices than you think you do. From things you probably have in your closet already, to a few quick items you can run out and buy in minutes, to fun DIY options, here are some of the cleverest Halloween costume hacks. 

From glam to downright ghoulish, I spoke with everyone from bloggers to stylists and even celebrities to find out what their best ideas are and where you can draw inspiration from to make your Halloween costume this year the best one yet!

Check your closet

If you're low on cash for your Halloween costume, celebrity stylist and podcaster Ali Levine has a simple solution: "You can get inspired with clothing you already have in your own closet! You've got to put those creative lenses on and really look. Spice up what you have by adding glitter, jewelry, pins, and little accessories to tie your costume together."

Stylist and blogger Sabrina Forscutt says that after you scour your own wardrobe you can "fill in the gaps with cheap buys from thrift stores, Amazon, or even DIY projects." Two of her previous favorites include being Arthur from the children's book and Cheryl Blossom from Archie. She revealed, "For Arthur I had the whole outfit in my closet, and was able to make the ears for under $5! For Cheryl Blossom I wore a mix of clothes I already had and cheaply bought a wig on Amazon for $10." 

Dope and Broke blogger Amanda Katherine suggests an easy but chic hippie costume. "Wear a cute pair of flared trousers and with a crop top. Add a fringed vest for extra hippy vibes. [Accessorize with] some platform shoes and hippie shades." To finish the look, pick a flower from outside (just don't let your neighbors catch you) or buy a fake one from your local craft store for a dollar. Then complete the details. "Wrap a headband around your head and tuck the flower behind your ear. Add some glitter or fake tattoos."

Just DIY it

Even those with moderate craft/DIY skills can easily make a quick and clever Halloween costume using only a poster board, a pair of scissors and a marker. Just ask Olivia Ross who shared her idea for an iPod costume with me. "I made it with one piece of poster board, a Sharpie, and some pins to attach it to a dress I borrowed from a friend. It took ten minutes and I got compliments all night! Plus, picking a fun song is a great conversation starter! I loved this costume so much and I know other people can do even more with it."

A great way to customize this costume is to pick a Halloween song such as "The Monster Mash" by Bobby Pickett, "Feed My Frankenstein" by Alice Cooper, "This is Halloween" by Marilyn Manson, or perhaps the very G-rated "I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow. 

Another fun DIY option is to dress as "The Breakfast Club." Blogger Misty Hill provided some easy instructions on how to make this cute costume. "Purchase a sweatshirt, kids' plastic food, small multipack cereal, and black puff paint and hot glue. Then glue toy eggs, bacon, toast, and a couple of empty cereal boxes randomly on the front of shirt. Paint 'Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club' with the puff paint." She also noted, "It's a great costume if you don't want to wear your costume all day. It comes on and off easily and is easy to drive in. You can wear it on top of any outfit."

The drugstore is a treasure trove

Whether you live in a major city or small town, everyone has a local drugstore or pharmacy that should have tons of Halloween accoutrements available.

Novelist Abby Stern admits she is more creative when it comes to writing than Halloween costumes, but still manages to look cute by choosing the same effortless costume year after year. "I'm always just a cat. I wear black leather leggings, a black tank, and black leather jacket." Then she heads off to CVS to buy cheap ears and a black eyeliner pencil which she uses to draw the nose and whiskers. While you are there, she suggests picking up some extra eye makeup remover to take off the look at the end of the night.

If being a cat isn't quite your thing, the Halloween aisles of most drugstores are generally stocked with other creature ear options such as mouse and devil. You can also find a variety of other accessories, such as witch hats, that can instantly turn most outfits into a costume.

Think Hollywood

Can't decide what you should be for Halloween this year? Think Hollywood. Rapper and actor Chef Sean told me he is going as Marvel's Punisher character, embracing both the hero and villain aspects of his own persona. Jazz vocalist Margo Rey revealed her cool but easy costume is a 1970 Linda Ronstadt. "I put on a long straight brunette wig, dangling gold hoops, and wear a boho chic outfit. Ronstadt inspires me from one successful Latina vocalist to another." Or you can keep it really simple like Felisha Rogers, who dressed as Gone Girl in a blood-stained pink slip dress while carrying a "Missing" flyer. 

Blogger Megan Zietz suggests a great costume idea that is particularly on point for redheads: The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. She says the look is "somewhere in between the original cartoon and the Johnny Depp version of the classic character." To create this costume, you need "a top hat, velvet blazer, scarves, a tulle skirt, bright shoes and lots of pink, white, orange, and purple makeup." Don't forget your teacup!

Another choice is to dress like one of the most famous men of all time, Jesus Christ. Pundit and wellness advocate Dr. Christopher Metzler is dressing as Black Jesus this year in a camel colored bathrobe that reads "Make America Nice Again," on the back. A pair of hemp rope sandals will accompany his ensemble.

Think locally

You don't always need to look to the latest horror film to get scary Halloween costume inspiration. There is probably plenty of inspiration right in your backyard (hopefully, not right in your backyard, but close enough). Author Karen Dybis suggests searching through local history or newspapers for "infamous characters." She told me, "Many cities have crimes that are known locally and finding a way to turn those stories into costumes might be a fun way to highlight your local history knowledge and win costume contests."

An example of this is The Witch of Delray. "People in Detroit really do dress up like 'The Witch of Delray,' who was a woman accused of being a serial killer in 1931. The costume is a black dress, white or gray knit cap, and a wine bottle. Rose Veres, or the Witch, was said to have poisoned her boarders' wine." Not only is this a clever idea, but it is also a great way to learn something new.

Go natural

The natural look is in and looking to the forest for Halloween costume inspiration can bring you compliments in spades. Style blogger Amanda Brooke of From Apple To Orange is thinking about dressing up as a forest creature this year. You can take this look in a number of directions and customize to your preferences. She explained to me how easy it is. "Create an ethereal makeup look with shimmer shadows, lots of highlighter, pale pink gloss, rhinestones, glitter, or lashes, if you have," she said. "Go big or go home with the makeup. Wear blue or green colored contacts, if they are available."

Don't forget to go wild with your hair. "Wave your hair and add in lightly curled ribbon in soft colors," she added. "Top off the style with flowers and braids. Separate the braids with your fingers so they look slightly messy. Then, add some temporary color spray in pinks, purples, blues or greens."

In terms of the actual outfit, she suggests wearing pastels, anything tulle or floor length. She also added, "A nude bodysuit is also a great place to start. Sheer fabric layered also looks cool." Then accessorize with any jewelry that has leaves or sparkly stones. You can also paint your nails in a variety of pastels for added detail. Brooke also shared a few more tips to point you in the right direction, "Stay away from dark colors, black, and anything too saturated. Play up the metallics and glitter."

Make it a group project

Group Halloween costume themes are extra fun and there are so many ways to approach this. If you want to go full-on Halloween, you and your friends can dress up like the cast of Hocus PocusThe Munsters, or The Addams Family.

But don't forget, you don't need a large group to do a group theme either. Zietz has some great ideas for you and your best friend, including as Buffy and Willow from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble from The Flintstones, and Samantha and Endora from the classic television show Bewitched. If you have a little one who wants to get in on the costume action, Zietz suggests dressing as Chuckie, Tommy, and Angelica from Rugrats.

Include your furry friends

What's cuter than a dog in Halloween costume? A dog that matches its human when they are both in Halloween costumes. Blogger Kerry Frances and her dogs have dressed up together for several years. Her favorites so far are "pumpkins, referees/rufferees, and Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper." She says her costumes are created from a mix of DIY and purchased, but all are low cost and easy to make.

Some other options that could work, depending on your dog's breed, are dressing like Dorothy and Toto from The Wizard of Oz, Scooby Doo and Shaggy from Scooby Doo, Timmy and Lassie from Lassie, and Elle Woods and Bruiser from Legally Blonde. The possibilities are endless.

Just make it clear to Fido beforehand that you will not be sharing your candy. 

Makeup is important

Less is not more when it comes to Halloween makeup. Levine told me, "Makeup is your best friend. Sometimes makeup is all you need for the perfect costume. Decorative makeup can really make your costume come to life."

Makeup can make your look glam or truly put the trick in "trick or treat." As the editor for The Weekly Spooky, Brit McGinnis knows all about creeping people out. She says makeup is the key to a perfect scary clown look, "You can be Pennywise with the slightly scarier/cuter face paint." She also suggests body paint if you are really creative. If Pennywise doesn't scare you, she suggests checking out Pinterest for inspiration that is quite simply a scream. 

But for some people, not being able to wash all of that makeup off your face can be the scariest part of the night. Before painting your face, McGinnis suggests using moisturizer first. Or if you want to be really professional, try primer. 

Don't forget your hair

A good Halloween costume hack is all about detail, so Levine says it's important to dress up your hair for the occasion. "Complete your costume with the perfect hair-do. If you're looking to change up the color of your hair for that extra dramatic effect, ditch the wigs and use hair chalk instead," she suggested. "Hair chalk is great for that temporary pop of hair color. All you need to do is grab a hair chalk kit and add a few streaks to your mane. Then, use hair spray to set the chalk. When you've taken an ample number of selfies and are done with your look, use some shampoo and rinse it out! It's that easy."

If you want to keep your Halloween look a little longer, Jayne Morehouse says temporary hair color is a great choice if you're not ready to go with permanently vivid hair. But the easiest, quickest fix is probably colored hair spray. Just don't forget to wash it out when the night is over.